A Maryland woman and a Falls Church woman have been charged after police say they stole a 3-month-old calf named Milly from a Maryland farm and brought it to a Norge animal sanctuary.
Jennifer Lauren Sully, 44, of Baltimore County, Maryland, was arrested May 27 on multiple charges of burglary and theft, according to a Baltimore County Police Department news release.
Police have obtained an arrest warrant for Erika Lynn Wilkinson, 19, of Falls Church, but had not located her as of Thursday morning, the release said.
The two women are alleged to have stolen a calf from Braglio Farms in Woodstock, Maryland, in mid-April, according to the release. The calf was forsaken by its mother after birth and was a family pet at the farm.
In a search warrant filed in Williamsburg-James City County Circuit Court, Baltimore County police say the farm’s owner tipped them off about two women trespassing on the farm’s property on April 20. The farm owner provided police with a license plate number and it came back to a vehicle Sully and Wilkinson used on April 20.
On April 28, Wilkinson began to post on her social media photographs of the calf with the tag “Life with Pigs,” the warrant said. “Life with Pigs” is the name of an animal sanctuary in Norge run by Ryan Phillips.
On May 5, Wilkinson changed her profile picture on an unnamed social media platform to that of her lying with the calf on a bed of straw, according to the warrant.
“Considering the above facts and investigation, (Baltimore County) Detective Hanna is convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that the stolen calf was taken from the Braglio Farm on Hernwood Road in Maryland by Erika Wilkinson and transported to the Life with Pigs Animal Sanctuary for ‘liberation,’” the warrant said.
On May 7, Baltimore County Police Department and James City County Police Department investigators executed a search warrant at the Norge animal sanctuary and located the calf, according to James City County Police Department spokeswoman Stephanie Williams.
Baltimore County police said Phillips first lied about the provenance of the calf and later told them Sully gave him the calf, the release said.
Phillips said the incident was merely a miscommunication, that he’d thought the investigators were asking about a different cow.
In the days after the seizure, Sully was charged and arrested. She posted a $10,000 unsecured bond after a bail hearing in Maryland, according to the release. Wilkinson is still at large.
The Life with Pigs Facebook page has claimed the calf came to the sanctuary in poor shape — malnourished and covered in lice.
Animal abuse investigators in Maryland have investigated the claims against the calf’s owner, Braglio Farms, and found no evidence of abuse or neglect as of Thursday, according to the release.
The criminal investigations remain ongoing, the release said. James City County police have no open cases stemming from the incident, Williams said.
Life with Pigs continues to post on Facebook that the calf should be returned to the Norge animal sanctuary.
On April 29, the sanctuary first posted about the calf it called “Sophie.”
Less than two weeks later, the sanctuary claimed that a person who picked up the phone at Braglio Farms threatened to kill Phillips. James City police spokeswoman Stephanie Williams said the department was unaware of any threats made against Phillips.
Phillips said in the last week he has built a fence around part of his property to obscure the view into his home and installed security cameras.
A voicemail box for Braglio Farms was full and they could not be reached for comment Thursday. Someone from the phone number called back and hung up.
Disclosure: The Baltimore Sun is owned by Tribune Publishing, parent company of the Virginia Gazette.
Roberts can be reached at 757-604-1329, by email at email@example.com and on Twitter @SPRobertsJr.